Skip to main content

United Airlines to order 200 flying taxis for airport trips

United Airlines is betting big on urban mobility with plans to purchase 200 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for deployment “within the next five years.”

The carrier wants to use small aircraft from Californian aviation startup Archer to shuttle its customers from urban areas to nearby airports for their main flight, though the deal, and the aircraft itself, require regulatory approval before any shuttle service can launch.

Related Videos

United’s order is part of a $1 billion investment in Archer to help with the development of the aircraft, and also offer expert advice on the design of the battery-powered, short-haul “flying taxi.”

“By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. The airline added that using Archer’s eVTOL aircraft could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 47 percent per passenger on a trip between Hollywood and Los Angeles International Airport — one of the cities where Archer wants to launch its fleet.

Archer, which started life in 2018, described news of United Airlines’ involvement as “a monumental day” for the company as it works “to bring urban air mobility to the masses,” with a full-scale model of its aircraft set to be unveiled later this year.

Today is a monumental day for Archer – we announced our deal to go public and a $1 billion order from United Airlines. We're excited to work alongside our amazing partners, $ACIC, @united, @Stellantis and more, to bring urban air mobility to the masses.

— Archer (@ArcherAviation) February 10, 2021

Archer’s electric aircraft will have a range of up to 60 miles and be able to carry four passengers at speeds of up to 150 mph.

The ability of the multi-rotor machine to fly straight up and down, in a similar way to a drone, removes the need for a runway, enabling the aircraft to, in Archer’s own words, “fit into the fabric of cities.”

The eVTOL market is growing rapidly as more companies envision a future where small electric aircraft offer short hops over gridlocked streets to get people across town — or to nearby places such as airports — quickly, quietly, and cleanly. Archer’s aircraft needs a pilot to fly, though some eVTOL vehicles are being designed to operate autonomously.

Check out some of the awesome designs currently in development.

Editors' Recommendations

This flying electric ferry could revolutionize coastal travel
this flying electric ferry could revolutionize coastal travel regent seaglider illustration

Imagine living in a coastal community and heading to the harbor for an ultra-low-altitude flight aboard an electric aircraft to a neighboring town just along the water.

Boston-based startup Regent is already working toward such a reality with its 10-passenger “seaglider” that it says could be carrying paying passengers as early as 2025.

Read more
Flying taxi startup Lilium shows off sleek new aircraft design
flying taxi startup lilium shows off sleek new aircraft design plane 2021

Make no mistake -- compact, quiet, and emissions-free aircraft that can take off and land vertically are on their way to our cities.

German firm Lilium is one of a growing number of companies that are developing such an eVTOL aircraft, and this week it unveiled its latest design.

Read more
Watch first footage of Joby’s all-electric VTOL aircraft in flight
watch first footage of jobys all electric vtol aircraft joby aviation evtol

With some serious financial backing from the likes of Toyota and Intel, Joby Aviation appears to really be going places with its all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOL for short.

California-based Joby has been working on its flying machine for the last 10 years and wants to use it to launch an air taxi service.

Read more